Are you a runner who’d like to slow things down a bit once in a while? Walking events might be a good option for you. Slowing down to take in the scenery and smell the roses is a fine way to give your body and mind a change of pace.
Walking is good for you on many levels. There are differences in muscle function versus running, and it can give your joints and ligaments a rest from the pavement-pounding running brings. Plus, you don’t have to contend with the stress of worrying about your PR or sustaining an injury that could wipe out your marathon aspirations.
If you want to give walking a shot, here are four events to consider.
1. Vierdaagse International Four Day Marches
Location: Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Date: 3rd Week of July
Organizer: Stitching DE 4DAAGSE
If you think walking events are a piece of cake, head to the small city of Nijmegen along the Waal River in eastern Netherlands for some humble pie. The Dutch have been doing this for a century (1916 – present) to promote health, fitness and being a badass walker. Take a look at the standard and military categories:
– 30 km x 4 days
– 40 km x 4 days
– 50 km x 4 days
– 40 km x 4 days – Full uniform plus a 10 kg backpack (excluding water, food, etc) for males and females aged 18–49
That’s right. You and your walking buddies can march for 30, 40 or 50 km each day for four days straight.
Rumoured to be one of the largest walking events of its kind in the world, the Vierdaagse attracts 42,000 civilian walkers and over a million spectators each year. The weather in Nijmegen is mild, the landscape is flat and the scenery is beautiful. Throw in all the WWII history (Operation Market Garden) and you have yourself a winning venue for walkers.
How much? Registration for the 100th Four Day Marches is €57 (roughly 62 USD), with a 5-euro discount for members of the KWBN (Royal Netherlands Walking Association). If you want a certificate it costs extra, so contact the organizers for more details as prices change yearly.
2. International Gilboa 2-day Walk
Location: The Gilboa Mountais, Israel
Organizer: Israel Sports for All Association
Established in 1999, the International Gilboa 2-day Walk is held annually in during the Spring in Israel when the weather is good. The 2-day affair is held on a Friday and Saturday, in either March or April, with the dates moving to avoid Passover.
The track crosses the Gilboa woods and nature reserve, providing walkers with excellent views via overlooking stations setup throughout the track. During the walk, the organizers provide walkers with information on the history, geology and archaeology of Gilboa. Walkers get to see Mt. Hermon and the Gilboa mountains.
There are free medical aid stations and food at the starting line, along the course and at the finish line. There are festivities during the medal ceremony, so make sure you don’t miss the party. Each walker who marches for two days straight will be given a medal, a certificate and a shirt. Instagram posting and hashtags are all up to you.
How much? Expect to shell out 50 shekels (roughly 12 USD) to join this event. You can register by just showing up on walk day, or by going to the ISFA website.
3. Canberra Walking Festival
Location: Canberra, Australia
Date: Late March – Early April each year
Organizers: Canberra Two-Day Walk Association (AussieWalk)
If you want a laid back, non-competitive walk in breathtaking Australia, head to the capital city of Canberra in autumn for the Canberra Walking Festival. The three-day event is pretty lenient on time – you can do a little sight-seeing and even have a coffee – as long as you finish before 4pm each day.
The routes are different each day, giving you the chance to see sights such as Lake Burley Griffin, Parliament House and a number of the Aussie capital’s gorgeous nature parks.
Dubbed as a “challenge walk for all ages”, the festival awards The Canberra Two-Day Walk Medal to anyone who completes any route on either of the days (Saturday or Sunday), with separate medals awarded to the marathon finishers (42km).
Here’s this year’s schedule:
Friday – April 1, 2016
· 5K Walk
· On Road
Saturday – April 2, 2016
· 42K, 28K, 20K, 11K, 5K Walks
· On Road
Sunday – April 3, 2015
· 29K, 21K, 15K, 10K, 6K Walks
· On Road
How much? If you register online and early, you can get massive discounts! Prices start from 20 AUD (roughly 15 USD) a day for adults. Go to the AussieWalk website for more entry details.
Location: Viborg, Denmark
Date: Last weekend of June
The royal and historic City of Viborg plays host to the biggest IML sanctioned walking event in Northern Europe, the annual Hærvejsmarchen or “the Army road walk”. The two-day march takes place along the beautiful countryside of Jutland on Hærvejen, the ancient droving road used by the military, an area that plays a major role in Danish history.
The Hærvejsmarchen offers routes for everyone: 10k, 20k, 0, 40k and 45k, with a children’s walk thrown in to help promote health and fitness among the youth. The event attracts more than 6,000 walkers each year from Denmark and over 20 different nations.
The march itself is two days, but the entire festival lasts for three. According to the organizers, the Hærvejsmarchen are divided into:
The HÆRVEJSMARCHEN – the official IML march
A Festival of Health – a social walk in a festive setting
The Children’s March HVM – a real walking experience for the young
How much? For adults, it’s 200 DKK (roughly 29 USD) and kiddies 5-14 years get a 50 DKK discount (150 DKK). An extra 25 DKK discount is available if you pay before June 1, 2016. They’re accepting early registrations now, so if you want that discount, register early.
Time to Take a Walk
When it comes to the world of athletics, running is the top dog. It gets all the media attention, press exposure, TV coverage, sponsorships, elite athletes, Hollywood stars and a whole lot of everything in between. Walking however, is just as good and is a lot easier on your body. If you need a reprieve from running or need to cross train for an event, try walking. It’s good for you.